A while ago, we asked our readers for their best indoor seed starting tips. We were amazed at the ingenuity they shared! Read their tips below, and add your own to the comment section below.
Of course, if you want to take the easy way out, you can always purchase a seed starting kit. (But promise us you’ll recycle it year after year.)
Here’s my tip: Keep grow lights close to seed trays to reduce etiolation of seedlings. Soon after germination point a small fan at the seed tray and turn it on low speed. The breeze promotes production of ethylene and strengthens the stems–no gangly seedlings flopping over the seed trays!
To protect your seeds from cats and birds disrupting the soil you can lay some fine craft mesh over your pot or garden until the seeds are sprouted. The mesh can remain in place either staked down or made into a tent with poles indefinitely
Very interesting tips that people are providing!! I use toilet paper rolls to make crafts for kids, so I won’t be adopting that one, but I think it is a great idea. Recently a friend gifted me with a hydroponic seed starter set and although it pops up the seeds 8 in a tidy row, it is more to educate the kidlets with. When it is seed starting time in my garden I soak them overnight and take them out to the garden. I plant them in a circle and put up little center sticks made out of cut up blinds with permanent ink information on them, date I planted, height of plant expected so I know what they are when they show their stuff. Living in the lower mainland of BC we generally have to start our seeds inside but the snow this year might have be taking up some of the great suggestions I have read here. Thank you for this informative site.
I have a great planter tip for large planters one would set on the patio. It hasn’t failed me yet for keeping sow or potato bugs and earwigs out of my planters. Line the bottom of the planter and about 1/3 of the way up with fine wire mesh (screen) or landscaping cloth. Then put a layer of pebbles for drainage and then your soil on top.
I use damp paper towels sprinkled with vermeculite and seeds to germinate my seeds. I keep them in a warm place in a gallon Ziploc bag. Checking them every 4-5 days to make sure they are moist and to check germination. This way there is no wasted time planting seeds that won’t germinate. When ready, I place them in starting pots. Enjoy…
Ever wonder what to do with the endless refuse from your coffee machine? I start seeds in those little individual coffee/tea containers that my coffee maker (a Keurigs) use. Just peel the foil top off and stick the seeds into the coffee grounds or tea leaves. It is just the right size and the hole in the bottom works well for draining. When you are ready to plant I use the extras (we drink a lot of coffee and tea) for compost (taking them out of the plastic and recycling that part). I don’t have pictures, but you can imagine
I start seeds in biodegradable recycled cups that I make out of paper towel and toilet paper rolls. They are free, easy to make, and work great for sprouting seeds under a grow light. I started my seeds this way last year with good results, and I plan to do even more this year. Here is a link to my step by step instructions
This will seem terribly old fashioned, but it always worked for my grandmother and she had an amazing year-round vegetable garden. I mix my seeds with a little soil, sprinkle them on a wet paper towel that sits on a sturdy paper plate, slide it into a large zip bag, and set the plate on top of a hot water bottle filled with very hot water. I refill the bottle twice a day. I can see which seeds are germinating and plant those. My grandmother always thought the gentle heat of the water bottle was better than a heating pad. She also said that the seeds needed “time from the heat” as the bottle cools, just as soil naturally cools each day when the sun sets
1. Start early. Smaller seeds like tomatoes, peppers and tobacco take time to germinate.
2. Use peat pots and a porous soil mix for proper breathing.
3. You can use the cardboard egg cartons if you have saved enough of them
4. Create a little greenhouse by covering with plastic in a sunny window
5. Be careful not to over water–as so many of us are “overcaring”
5 tips in all–I couldn’t select just one!
1. Use cups to start seeds in that you can plant right in the garden
2. Use grow lights. You don’t have to rotate everyday like you do when using a window
3.When seedlings are just emerging, water using a plastic bottle that you have poked holes in the caps. It sprinkles the seedlings instead of a gush of water that can disturb the soil
4. Don’t start too early. I’m learning the hard way and have cukes and pumpkins that are flowering much too early
5. Plant what you like to eat
Seed starting tips: I recycle the plastic containers strawberries are sold in as mini window seal greenhouses to start my seeds. First I line the container with gentle used paper towels, feel with seed starting mix, plant seeds, water and find a warm place until the begin to comp up. Once up, I move to a sunny window seal and enjoy the first of my gardening season. To water my seedlings, I use a rinsed out dish soap bottle. This is a nice size, is easy to get the water when you want it and handy to store. You can also stack your strawberry greenhouses on the window seal until your plants start to outgrow the containers. This is an easy, environmentally friendly way to get your garden started!